Bus Drivers are Special People

School_Bus_-_3030cf2I recently spent some time at our district bus garage.  Being a small district, we don’t have all that many bus routes/drivers.  If you ever walk into a bus garage, the first thing you will notice is many of them have very strong personalities.  These are not people that you want to mess with or take lightly.  They will talk louder than you, with more energy than you and are very determined that you hear their thoughts and opinions.

Similar to teachers, they will rant and rave about the kids on their bus.  They talk about how one student did this, another won’t listen, another is standing up all the time.  On and on about how these kids behave on the bus.  But what is amazing is just as fast as they start complaining about the kids, they will switch and begin telling you about their brothers and sisters, who they are related to, what is going on in their families both good and bad.  You will see a look in the driver’s eye of real caring for these kids.  They get attached to them and build relationships with them in truly special ways.

Now teachers, principals, para-pros etc. all build relationships as well with students, but one driver said it best to me.  She said try teaching your class with your back to them the whole time.  They just don’t have their back to them, they are driving a huge vehicle as well.  All this while obviously getting to know them as people.  This is an amazing skill.  Just another example of how not everyone can be in education…only the really special ones.

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When students make you cry

I have a student who is autistic.  He was in my class for two school years in a row and then after skipping a year I had him again.  If you have had experience with autistic students, you know they can take things very literally in some cases as well as they all are slightly different in what exactly their impairments can be.  This student never showed much emotion in the way of connecting to others.  I witnessed him express anger or frustration, but not really any joy of being around others.  One day we had an unexpected fire drill.  As usually the students silently got up from their seats, pushed in the chairs and began walking single file out of the classroom.  I always stand to the side and wait until they are all out of the room.  This particular student looked at me with great worry and put his hand out and said “Come on, Come on with us.”  He did not know it was a drill and was genuinely worried about me. You work so hard to make a connection with students, and in particular students such as this one that has a disability and shows very little emotion.  I had never witnessed him show compassion or real caring for someone else until that moment and of all people it was towards me.

I quickly told him I was coming and that everything was alright, but really inside I was not alright.  I was fighting back tears.  I did not think there was any connection with this student.  It really goes to show you never know what is going on in their heads or how they are going to make you feel.

As you go through your career, the students are going to touch you emotionally in ways you didn’t think was possible.  Sometimes it will be tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of being overwhelmed and sometimes tears just because you care for them that much.

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A Student’s Life

This week’s blog is a forwarding of an article about what it is like to walk in the shoes of a student.  Hope you enjoy!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/24/teacher-spends-two-days-as-a-student-and-is-shocked-at-what-she-learned/

 

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A Day in the Life

“Today in class Math class, (INSERT STUDENT NAME) had another outstanding day.  He started out by adding to his self-made drawing book titled “Book of Demons”. I think I saw my name on one of them as well as all of his other teachers.  Then he nearly broke a sweat NOT writing any of the notes and formulas needed for today’s lesson. He sang opera on two different occasions and continuously wiggled his hands and then would slam one hand down into the carpet.  I asked him what this move was because it looked much like Iron Man when he lands from a flight.  He simply said it was just a little something he has been working on.  I left it at that. He then got kind of crazy and almost did a math problem, but came to his senses and quit before finishing it. Then there was an additional encore opera performance directly followed by some minor foot surgery where he peeled his shoe and dirty sock off in order to dig at a sliver between his toes.”

StudentNotPayingAttentionDoes this sound familiar to anyone?  If you have been a teacher for any amount of time you probably have experienced a student like the one described above.  These types of students can suck the life out of you on a daily basis.  Then if you have the good fortune of 2 or 3 or 4 of these students in your class at one time-Yea Haaaaa!!!

ConfusedteacherWhere do you begin when this is the student you have been dealt to teach?  A student that is bright, but eccentric. Doesn’t qualify for additional services, but doesn’t fit the traditional norm of the classroom.  Truly marches to their own drum regardless of the rules of the environment around them.  It may sound crazy, but you cannot worry about academics at this point.  You must start where you do with any student…the relationship. Make it a point to talk to this student every single day about anything other than school.  For this example, talk to them about the move they were doing in class. How did he get the sliver?  Ask them what they like to do.  Slowly begin to peel through the layers to see the good in the student.

Do not think that this is the green light to not hold them accountable.  They must still be taught and held to the rules of the classroom.  When they disrupt the education for the other students, remove them from the environment briefly, seize the learning moment and allow them to begin again at a later time.  Maybe that is later in the class, maybe it is the next day.

These students are complex and bring challenges that cannot be conquered quickly.  It takes time, dedication, patience and a whole lot of grit to get the job done.  But you can do it and you will do it because you are a special, highly-skilled professional.  Its what you do. Its what you do BEST!

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Let It Go! Let It Go!

If you have children you are probably beginning to get a little tired of the most recent Disney hit “Frozen”.  Even if you do not have children, I am sure you have listened to the hit song from the movie called “Let It Go” at least a couple dozen times.  This song can be somewhat of a theme for those of us that deal with students.

FrozenA key piece of information that many veteran teachers know (and the new ones learn real quick) is that kids are going to push your buttons.  It is inevitable.  Now sometimes it may be more often than others and you may even go through long stretches where you think teaching is a piece of cake. But it is a guarantee that eventually they will push you to your limit.  It may the constant behavior that takes you away from your teaching and their learning.  It may be something they say that is disrespectful.  Or maybe worst of all, they do something that just plain hurts your feelings.

hurt feelingsAt moments like these I am sure you handle the situation with professionalism and in accordance to your school’s Student Code of Conduct.  These policies and procedures are followed and life goes on.  But many times inside you, it isn’t that easy.  You may have a flood of emotions such as anger, sadness or even self doubt.  It is vital at moments such as these, that you do just as the song says “Let It Go”.

You have to let it go and most importantly DO NOT HOLD A GRUDGE!  Remember, they are kids.  They know not what they do.  They view many of their teachers as anything but human.  You are a version of a person they see have reactions, but they rarely ever think about what is inside you.  They are only aware of the hard shell, not the soft center.  If you keep these feelings fresh, it will only cause harm to yourself.  Prior to any dealings with students, just know they are going to make mistakes, they are going to push your buttons, they are going to drive to levels of emotions you did not know you had.  But if you choose to let it go, if you choose to stay calm, if you choose to be happy then you can flourish in this profession.  You will start to see more and more good and less and less bad.

Truly kids are really cool people.  They just aren’t a complete package yet and their flaws will come out in various and unpredictable ways.  That is what we are their for. To help them deal with these flaws and to hopefully turn them into strong adults.